By John Zippert,
Greene County Democrat
According to the U.S. Census2020 website as of today, only 40.7% of the households in Greene County have responded to the Census, which counts the population of the entire country every ten years. The 40.7% rate for Greene County lags behind the national rate of 61.4% and the State of Alabama’s rate of 59.8%.
Marilyn Stephens, Assistant Regional Manager of the Atlanta Region, which includes the State of Alabama, said “ Take ten minutes today to help ensure benefits to your community for the next ten years!”
Stephens indicated that the coronavirus pandemic had delayed and interfered with some of the schedule for the Census, including house-to-house visits, but that the Census takers would soon be coming around.
In the meantime, Stephens suggested that those households that have not completed the 2020 Census, can call the toll free number: 1-844-330-2020 and answer the questions by phone. She said you can also use your cell phone, tablet or computer and go to: my2020Census.gov, and complete the Census online.
Those persons who never received, lost or misplaced the original communication from the Census, which had an identification number, can call in or report online based on their address. Stephens said, “Don’t worry about a deadline, for you the deadline is today, to complete your Census.”
Stephens said there are two main reasons, why Greene County residents should complete the Census, “First, the population count in the Census is used to determine the apportionment of districts for U. S. Congress, the state legislature and local electoral districts. So if you do not participate in the Census, your state, county and city may lose representation and a voice in making important policy decisions that will affect your life.
“Second, the Census count is used in distributing $675 Billion or more in Federal and state dollars each year for programs for healthcare, rural hospitals, school lunch programs, senior citizens meals, Headstart, Community Development Block Grants, SNAP, WIC and highway funds. If you do not report in the Census, you are shortchanging your community and your household from receiving a fair and adequate share of these benefits.”
Rev. Chris Spencer, with the Black Belt Community Foundation, says, “We must work to get every resident counted in the Census to assure that we get the benefits we need from Federal and state programs. Every church, housing development, and community organization needs to check its membership and help make sure that we get one hundred percent completion of the Census. 40% is a good start but we need to finish the job, we need everyone’s help.”
Carrie Fulghum, Manager of the Eutaw Elderly Village, a thirty unit elderly housing development in the city, with the help of Miriam Leftwitch, a board member, went door to door and helped every resident to complete the Census. “We gave each person, who completed the Census, a ticket in a raffle, and awarded a prize basket of supplies and snacks to the winner. This was a small incentive to help ensure that everyone in our housing community completed the Census. We challenge every other housing development in our city and county to do the same.”
Kinya Isaac, who is the Census Coordinator for Greene County, said, “When you talk with your friends and neighbors ask them if they have completed the Census and ask if you can assist them if they need help to call or get online.”
Marilyn Stephens, completed her interview by saying,” I want people to know that the Census is safe. By law, you are protected from any of your personal information being released or used against you. We do not publish any information on individuals just aggregated data for an area”